We all know the importance of staying fit and healthy when pregnant, but many women might feel unsure about how much exercise they should do when expecting. Those who love nothing more than going for a run can breathe a sigh of relief, as they are still able to enjoy their favourite hobby.
Here are our tips on how to carry on running for as long as you feel comfortable.
Contrary to some opinions, running when pregnant will not harm the baby. Dr Deborah Lee at Dr Fox Online Pharmacy told Cosmopolitan readers: “Yes, it is safe for women to run in pregnancy. The only proviso is that the amount of exercise taken in pregnancy should be in keeping with how much exercise was normal for the woman (or expectant parent) before becoming pregnant.”
Therefore, those who have never jogged more than 5km should not suddenly embark on half-marathon training.
It is also important to listen to your body and if there is any discomfort or niggling feeling, it is wise to stop or slow down.
- Wear correct attire
Your whole body changes when you’re pregnant, even your feet. So, make sure you have proper running shoes with cushioned soles that can support the extra weight and swelling.
A supportive running bra and maternity workout gear is also essential to keep you comfortable.
Don’t be tempted to skip a warm-up as this will help get your muscles and ligaments ready for your run. The hormone relaxin, which is released during pregnancy to loosen ligaments, makes pregnant runners more likely to encounter injury or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Therefore, it can help reduce the chances of any discomfort.
Founder of online fitness platform Team Bump Lizzie Chitty told Stylist: “Warm-ups are very important to get the muscles and ligaments ready for the upcoming workout.”
- Stick to firm ground
While off-road running might be your favourite, now is not the time to head out into the wild. Stick with pavements and roads, as the firm ground will reduce chances of tripping up and falling over.
Your balance is likely to be off when pregnant, especially in the third trimester, as your centre of gravity changes when the bump gets bigger. So, make sure the ground is flat to avoid any stumbles.
This will also help with your joints, as the extra weight you are carrying, together with loosening ligaments, means you are likely to place extra pressure on your joints when running. Unsteady ground will only make this worse.
Drinking water is always important when running, but even more so when pregnant. Make sure you carry some water with you, particularly in hot weather.
Do not let yourself overheat, as expectant mothers with a temperature of more than 39C are more susceptible to heat stroke, heat exhaustion and dehydration, Heart.org warns. This could lead to Braxton Hicks, dizziness, or fainting.
Therefore, drinking plenty of water, avoiding the hottest parts of the day, and wearing loose-fitting clothing will help avoid overheating.
It is also wise not to run on a full bladder or try to hold in a wee for too long, as this can feel uncomfortable. Therefore, if you do go for a run, stay close by, so you can always pop home for the toilet if you need to.
Once you have mitigated these risks, pregnant women should embrace their love for running, as it provides many health benefits for both the mum and baby, including lowering the risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and hypertension, as well as the need for a caesarean. It can also reduce the risk of prenatal depression and pregnancy-related pain, and improve chances of returning to fitness after the birth.
Make sure you get appropriate footwear, such as limited edition women’s trainers, to make your pregnancy journey as safe and comfortable as possible.